Many studies indicate the important role of faculty and peers in Black students’ motivation to succeed. However, increasingly we are beginning to understand the role of other key factors. In this current study, we examine the role of family, race and community in shaping the motivation and success of Black students. This work reveals that parents and extended community help students stay focused and are important in helping students weather the challenges that arise academically as well as socially on the way to completing their degree. Students also are motivated by the financial sacrifices that their parents make to ensure that they have access to high quality educational experiences. Finally, participants expressed the importance of race and ethnicity as sources of motivation to defy the academic stereotypes about Blacks failing in STEM fields. While this research demonstrates how family, community and race are important sources of motivation, it does not minimize the need for students to have access to supportive advisors, faculty mentors and others in their academic departments who can serve as sources of motivation.

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